Monday (18 May) – becoming part of the pod, sort of …

Another silent morning greeted me as I slipped into the water from the blue platform. The underwater visibility was good … but the dolphins were moving slowly and in the shallow area. As I meandered my way over, Maury and Fiona swam swiftly by me. Then, like a squadron, several of the males zoomed into view. They flanked me and I swiveled to keep them in view. This “dance” lasted for a few minutes until the tables were turned and the males – Paya, Ritchie, Hector, French, Ken and Anthony – flocked all around me. They were close and bumping me and just in my space. Nothing aggressive about it, they were just in my space. It’s pretty hard to conduct a behavioral study on an eyeball, or a body side. After a few minutes they moved off and into their own thing. I saw a few of them again during the hour session. Ritchie ad Paya below him who then had Ken below him … a three-tiered rack of dolphins. Paya was even playful with some of the other males. Hector has assumed Paya’s old role of the “aloof watcher”.
I was able to watch the females a bit as well. Margarita was full of vim and vigor this morning and was pulled back to her mom’s side a few times with sharp whistles. Cedena kept Bailey near and Alita was watchful of Anthony. It was a productive session!
This afternoon, after logging the data sheets, I spent some time at Bailey’s key observing some training sessions. Teri has a class of students learning the details of training (Dolphin Training 101) and they were learning some of the basics about training husbandry behaviors and also how to train “match to sample” tasks. It was fun to watch and I learned a bit more about animal behavior by watching how closely the trainers observe and catch the subtleties of the dolphins in their care.
More data are waiting to be collected tomorrow morning. Until then,